Membership with Fantasy Football Scout helped Paul Gee to his “greatest Fantasy Premier League achievement” this season as he finished second in the whole world.
On a dramatic final day, the 33-year-old electrical engineer from Leeds was just 17 minutes away from winning the FPL title before a Josh King goal robbed him of a clean sheet double up on Burnley’s defence.
However, Paul admitted he has very few complaints after 2017/18 proved his best ever campaign, with FFS playing a big part.
Tools for Success
“The website for the last eight years has been my number one tool to success,” Paul told FFS.
“I’ve achieved three top 5,000 finishes and have never finished below 50,000 in the time I have been a member.
“Finishing second in the world and as the top FFS member felt great. It is my greatest FPL achievement, which I didn’t think would be possible for me.
“I put a lot of effort into it, from planning my team in Gameweek 1 right the way through to Gameweek 38.
“Just like a lot of other guys on FFS, I love reading all the opinions on every player and tactic. They all share a common interest with me.
“A lot of my mates mock me for how serious I take it. I know the fixture lists off-by-heart. So I have to thank the ‘ROFL bois’ and my wife for not killing me this year!”
The Leeds United fan cited FFS tools such as the season ticker and expected goals table, as well as having discussions with other members, as the key reasons behind his success in 2017/18.
“The forums on their own are so valuable,” he explained.
“Some of the guys created spreadsheets for defensive rotations and this proved a key part of my success this season.
“This meant I would never take a hit on a cheap defender. You have to use your squad and not take a hit early on. If you get your rotation right you don’t need to take hits.
“I like to try and get a good rotation with the fifth midfielder and the third striker and play 3-5-2 or my favourite formation 3-4-3.
“I always like to use the goals imminent table too, if I couldn’t make my mind up about a transfer.
“I also like to play the fixtures, so a key part of being an FFS member is the season ticker. I can’t explain how important this has been to me.
“Most importantly, for me, the key part of FFS is the community. There are a lot of guys putting so much effort into it such as creating tables discussing tactics, which are invaluable. So maybe I should share all my prizes with you, or maybe not!”
Final Day Drama
However, all the research in the world could not prepare Paul for a rollercoaster of emotions that was the final day of the season. Having made just one change to his side, signing Mohamed Salah for Dele Alli, it was an inauspicious start to Gameweek 38.
He said: “I use Twitter to get the team sheets from their respective club account and I knew straight away that Gabriel Jesus and Pascal Gross were benched.
“I felt totally gutted because the two transfers I had in mind for the hit that I didn’t do was Jesus to Alexandre Lacazette for a differential and Gross to Wilfried Zaha.
“I went through all my opponents’ teams and saw that Bharat Dhody (then leader) had lots of players out and, crucially, he had no bench with Ashley Barnes injured. I thought Faisal Idris in second place had it won.
“I was, however, aware that Yusuf Sheikh had the Triple Captain chip left and I was pretty sure he would give Salah the armband.
“I just thought that with my advantage of about 12 points I would be able to hold him off with no points hits, but he played the game very well.”
Paul ended 2017/18 with 2504 points after a Gameweek score of 72, which proved just eight short of eventual winner Yusuf from Tanzania. It could have been ever better for him though, and, at one stage, he was top of the pile.
“I spent all afternoon refreshing the squads of the other teams,” Paul revealed.
“At first I wasn’t that nervous. I honestly felt that with looking at the teams, after all the players that had been rotated, that I had no chance making up the points.
“The first goal that went in for me was really early on with Jamie Vardy getting the opener for Leicester at Wembley.
“My Dad and I went mad! That’s when I started dreaming of glory.”
The Burnley Defence
“By the second half I knew that the Burnley defence was key to me doing really really well. Getting first place would ride on their clean sheet.
“I knew I was going to be doubling up since my Gameweek 32 Wildcard. At that time Burnley were keeping a only few clean sheets, so I wasn’t so confident at the start of the Gameweek because of their recent defensive form.
“By the time it got to the 73rd minute it was, unbelievably, still on, and I really started to feel the heat then.
“I knew at the back of my mind I was winning the whole thing. I had worked out that my overall position was first place, but I refused to look at the game by that point. I think the wife, thought I was losing it I was that nervous.”
It all changed in the 74th minute when Callum Wilson equalised for Bournemouth, wiping out eight of Paul’s points and robbing Tarkowski and Lowton of a clean sheet.
“I was devastated,” Paul revealed. “But in a way I was still happy because at that point I knew I had clinched a top three finish, with a bit of mental maths. I had seen that Faisal and Bharat (the previous top two) were having absolute stinkers by their high standards.
“Very soon after losing the clean sheet, Vardy scored his second against Spurs. I knew he was my ultimate differential and he was doing his job.”
The signing of Vardy on his Wildcard in Gameweek 32 was another decision influenced by FFS. Going into the final day of the season, he was one of the differentials Paul hoped would claim him the title.
He explained: “My plan had been to try and push for third, as that’s where the FPL prizes started. Looking at all the other teams above, over-all they seemed a lot stronger than mine.
“I had to rely on the differentials I had over the others, such as Vardy and Marko Arnautovic.
“I saw Vardy’s record away against the top sides in the league and this was backed up by an article I read on FFS, which helped me a lot.”
Paul was one of just two managers in the top five who was able to sign Salah back into his side for Gameweek 38 without having to take a points hit, which made a big difference for him in the end.
“Re-signing Salah was my plan all along,” Paul revealed.
“I knew a lot of the guys would go all out to spend every last penny, forgetting about the final crucial Gameweek 38. If I went with Salah I knew I would captain him. I knew that captaining him could be a slight differential because the other guys might try to be too clever with their choices.
“I was aware there was only two of us in the top five who could get him hit free, so I would make four points up straight away. It turns out it really was crucial that I didn’t take a hit because I beat Bharat into second by four points.”